Youth Ministry may very well be labeled the “best job on the face of the planet.” It reminds me of that saying, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” For youth workers/ Pastors, this is true! It’s a wonderful experience, and it’s one not to take lightly. The idea you get to pour your life out into students for God’s own glory is absolutely amazing! We have the wonderful privilege & opportunity to influence students to be like Christ.
I was sitting in my bedroom dwelling on my position, thinking about Youth Ministry in general, knowing that there are things that are working, and things that aren’t working. So I began to ask myself, “What do youth Pastor’s need to focus on more?” I got on Youthmin.org‘s Facebook page and posted the following question: “What do we need to see more of from Youth Pastors?” I received some great responses! I won’t go through them all, but I will deal with some.
The first response was that we need to focus more on Theology. I agreed! What is theology? Theology is the study of God. Theology helps us to learn more of the person and nature of God. That statement in and of itself should drive us to be more theological in our studies, teachings and applications. One person has stated that, “youth ministry is 5 miles wide, but only 1 inch deep.” That is a scary thought! God Himself is deep! But He has revealed Himself through general revelation (creation, read Romans 1) and through specific revelation (i.e., the Scriptures and Christ Himself). The Apostle Paul’s goal was to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings Philippians 3:10.
The second response I received was that we need more solid exposition of the Scriptures. This is so right on! This works hand in hand with the first response. The issue I see with topical preaching is, the lack of context and misuse of the Scriptures. We have preachers on TV today who do this (I won’t name names but I know he smiles A LOT!) I always use the example that when Paul says that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, does that mean we can jump out of an airplane without a parachute and not suffer the consequence? Surely this isn’t what he is talking about and I hope no one gets that false idea in their head! Are topics wrong? No! Is it possible to have a topic and be expositional? Yes! But we must be careful that we do not take the text out of context and add a meaning to the text that the text is not saying (known as eisegesis). If we are going to equip the saints, we must do so carefully, rightly dividing the Word of truth 2 Timothy 2:15.
The third response I got I thought was awesome. Jeremy Smith said, “discipleship that takes evangelism to the schools!” Wow! What a statement! James makes it very clear that faith without works is dead. Even though the days are getting tougher and tougher to get Youth Pastors and workers in the schools, our students are daily there! What a great opportunity to get the Gospel to the lost! Do you remember in your “prime”, the days where evangelism was your zeal? Nothing could stop you and hopefully this is still you. Do you remember the excitement you felt when someone responded to the Gospel? It felt amazing! You felt like Superman (okay, maybe not). Now, imagine 1 student experiencing the same feeling and they come to you all hyped and ready to go do it more! That is one student who can lead his friends to doing that very thing. We disciple to make disciples to make disciples Matthew 28:18-20.
Last but not least, a couple people emphasized the importance of prayer. They are not alone on this. The Apostle Paul mentions in a few different places of Scripture the importance of prayer. We read in Romans 15:30 to be fervent in prayer. We also read in Colossians 4:1 that we are to devote ourselves to prayer. Then finally, the famous verse found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing. Paul seems to be saying something about the importance of prayer. I’ve once stated to my youth group that, “prayer is what directs us to the heart of God.” If we want to know God’s will, if we want to love Him and experience Him more, prayer is absolutely essential.
So what does this mean for us Youth Pastors? If our friends and church members and other Youth Pastors see that there are areas of youth ministry that need to change, are we going to examine ourselves, our ministries and begin to get serious about it? I want to challenge you, Youth Pastor, to consider what was said above. We have a habit of reading great blogs and articles and not allow them to have any affect on us. Don’t do this. Let it sink in. Pray and ask God to lead you, to help you be a more faithful servant and teacher/preacher of His Word. Honestly, it’s time to set the games aside, open up the Word and study it fervently. It’s time to devote ourselves to prayer. We have a great job, yet it comes with a price. The price is your students. Are you training them to be better people, or faithful followers of Christ Jesus? I hope and pray that you are and or will get serious about student ministry. Run the race faithfully, keeping your eyes on Christ!
Derek Sullivan is 22 years old and began his first ministry position at Friendship Baptist Church as Youth Pastor on February 15th of 2012. He’s currently enrolled at Tennessee Temple University online pursuing a degree in youth ministry. His passion is the Gospel and he loves teaching God’s Word! Derek is daily seeking God’s will for his life and how best he can serve Jesus and his church.